Don’t be that Sales rep who harasses prospects with 27 phone calls.
Today’s buyers are different than those of the past. They have an enormous wealth of information, content and resources at their disposal. They’re better informed about your product and industry, and that makes it increasingly difficult to be competitive as a rigid salesperson.
To combat this, Sales teams must start concentrating on helping buyers while they’re in the process of evaluating purchases.
That's where social selling tactics come into play.
Social selling demands a more flexible approach to sales that, through social media and technology, aims to benefit the prospect instead of interrupting their daily routine.
Your customers spend a lot of time on social networks and that is where you need to be engaged and serve them.
Here are three steps you can start taking to be more effective at social selling (and sales in general), along with tactics and ideas that have helped me educate, serve, and build meaningful relationships with buyers.
Step 1. Be Relevant
Since buyers are researching heavily online, you as the Sales rep need to be visible and available across the web. You should aim to be a thought leader in your buyer’s industry.
This starts with fishing where the fish are.
LinkedIn is the most common social network for buyers to investigate and learn about potential vendors.
For me, social selling on LinkedIn starts with a profile headline that quickly summarizes the goals in my role. I mention that I'm focused on helping, who my audience is, my buyer’s goal and our value proposition.
I also make an effort to be an active member in LinkedIn groups that are relevant to my buyers and share educational content on both LinkedIn and on Twitter.
As someone who works with very bright marketers day in and day out, I make sure I think and act like a marketer myself and become a thought leader by being relevant to my network.
On Twitter, I make time throughout the week to share helpful content with my followers, as well as people who are tweeting about specific topics.
For example, in the following tweet, I noticed someone was sharing content around marketing ROI. I sent her a simple and easy reply with a link to a collection of additional blog posts around marketing for lead generation.
It doesn’t have to be difficult to be effective.
Step 2: Do Your Homework
Social selling is not just about Sales reps engaging but also researching and understanding specific prospects and their needs.
Often when I am learning more about a company, the first place I go is LinkedIn to understand how many employees work there, where they are located, what roles they have and who makes up a specific team.
The more information you can equip yourself with, the better chance you have at shortening the sales cycle and earning your buyer’s trust.
Both the free and the paid (Sales Navigator) versions of LinkedIn make it simple to research a prospect.
Twitter can also be a great channel to learn and find new information.
For example, one of the use cases for Uberflip’s platform is building lead generating resource centers. Once in a while I will do a Twitter search for “content resource centers” and then engage depending on relevant activity.
The following Tweet by SageERPWire about their resource center, gave me a good opportunity to reach out and learn who it was that manages their resource center.
@SageERPWire Hey there - could you put me in touch with the person who runs your resource center? I have a few ideas. Thx!— Michael Gagliano (@M_Gagliano) January 20, 2015
What followed was an introduction to their Director on Twitter that led to a solid email conversation. Try a Twitter search like this for yourself and see what you find.
Just remember: it's about serving, not selling.
Step 3: Build a Relationship
So far you’ve seen examples of leveraging social channels to become relevant and visible to the buyer, as well as how to research and discover new details about a prospect. But it certainly doesn’t end there.
Once a first meeting or initial demo has taken place, I often take things back to Twitter and help the prospect feel good about working with me.
Even a more playful message like the one below can show that you care and that the person is a priority.
@M_Gagliano HA! Good stuff. Happy holidays to you guys too!— Emma, Inc. (@emmaemail) December 23, 2014
On LinkedIn, I always connect with the people at the prospective company's account, because if we haven’t met in person, seeing each other’s photo and career experience builds trust and makes the client feel more comfortable working with you.
Leverage apps like Linkedin Connected that sync with your calendar and tell you bits of useful information about the people you are speaking with in an upcoming call or meeting. For example, it notifies you when one of your connections gets a promotion, which could be a great time to re-engage the conversation.
Finally, with buyers that you have good relationships with, texting short messages back and forth when you have a quick question or idea is a great example of social selling on a mobile device. Social media isn't the only avenue to leverage social selling. It's about using the channels that your audience uses on a daily basis.
Be Where Your Buyers Are
There is no exact science behind social selling, but as a modern Sales rep, remember to always be visible and relevant to your buyers in the channels that they frequently use. Above all, focus on helping and educating to build authority and long-term relationships among your buyers.
You need to leverage social channels to equip yourself with details and information that are important to your buyer, and even once you’ve started the sales cycle, don’t be afraid to jump back onto those channels to further grow the relationship.
Social selling isn't difficult to practice. In fact, it can be as simple as tweeting something nice to your customers even after they buy.
With so many channels out there for today's sales reps to explore, it's time to go beyond the email and cold call, and look to where your buyers really are.